About the Author
Khushwant Singh is India's best-known writer and columnist. He has been founder-editor of Yojana and editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, the National Herald and the Hindustan Times. He is the author of classics such as Train to Pakistan, I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale and Delhi. His latest novel, The Sunset Club, written when he was 95, was published by Penguin Books in 2010. His non-fiction includes the classic two-volume A History of the Sikhs, a number of translations and works on Sikh religion and culture, Delhi, nature, current affairs and Urdu poetry. His autobiography, Truth, Love and a Little Malice, was published by Penguin Books in 2002.
Khushwant Singh was a member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 but returned the decoration in 1984 in protest against the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Indian army. In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
Among the other awards he has received are the Punjab Ratan, the Sulabh International award for the most honest Indian of the year, and honorary doctorates from several universities.
I am now in what, according to traditional Hindu belief, is the fourth and final stage of life, sanyaas. I should be meditating in solitude, I should have shed all attachments and all interest in worldly things. According to Guru Nanak, a person who lives into his nineties feels weak, does not understand the reason for his weakness and keeps lying down.
I haven't reached either of those stages of my life just yet.
At ninety-eight, I count myself lucky that I still enjoy my single malt whiskey at seven every evening. I relish tasty food, and look forward to hearing the latest gossip and scandal.
I tell people who drop in to see me, 'If you have nothing nice to say about anyone, come and sit beside me.' I retain my curiosity about the world around me; I enjoy the company of beautiful women; I take joy in poetry and literature, and in watching nature.
And despite Guru Nanak's predictions about a man who lives to my age, I do not spend a lot of time lying down-I still rise at four every morning and spend most of the day sitting in my armchair, reading and writing. All my life I've worked hard; I've been a man of habit and stuck to a disciplined daily routine for over fifty years. That has stood me in good stead into my nineties.
But I have slowed down considerably in the past year. I tire more easily, and have grown quite deaf. These days, I often remove my hearing aid, since the noise of the TV and the chatter of visitors wear me out. And I find myself relishing the silence that deafness brings. As I sit enveloped in silence, I often look back on my life, thinking about what has enriched it, what and who have been important to me; the mistakes I've made and the regrets I have. I think about the precious time I wasted in pointless rituals, in socializing, and spending years of my working life as a lawyer and then a diplomat, until I took to writing. I think about the importance of kindness in daily life; the healing power of laughter-including the ability to laugh at oneself; and what it takes to be honest-both with others and with oneself.
My life has had its ups and downs, but I've lived it fully, and I think I have learnt its
TIME FOR REFLECTION
NO NEED TO RETIRE HURT
THE STATE OF THE NATION
THE IMPORTANCE OF GANDHI
WHAT RELIGION MEANS TO ME
URDU POETRY, MY PASSION
GHALIB, THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL
THE BUSINESS OF WRITING
WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A WRITER
JOURNALISM THEN AND NOW
The English-Language Paradox
To Prohibit Is to Promote
Greed: The Deadliest Sin of All
When It Comes to Sex
The Qualities of a President
The Highest Award
POETRY IS PRICELESS
DEALING WITH DEATH
TWELVE TIPS TO UVE LONG AND BE HAPPY
HUMOUR IS A LETHAL WEAPON
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend